Rich Rodriguez has coached in just two Michigan-Michigan State games, losing them both, and yet he can sense the next matchup is different.
The 17th-ranked Spartans (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) and 18th-ranked Wolverines (5-0, 1-0) will play today at the Big House in Ann Arbor without a loss between them for the first time since 1999, and with both in the Associated Press poll for the first time in seven years. It’s also the only Division 1 game this weekend between two unbeatens.
“It certainly adds interest — nationally,’’ Rodriguez said. “The more you win, the more that is at stake.’’
The Spartans — boosted by the return of coach Mark Dantonio in his first game back since having a mild heart attack last month — have a shot to win three straight against college football’s winningest team for the first time since 1965-67.
After just five games, Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson is 95 yards away from rushing for 1,000 this season and 87 yards shy of 2,000 total. If Robinson can keep up the pace he’s set so far, he’ll eclipse those milestones in the first quarter.
Dantonio is expected to watch the game from a coaching box high atop the renovated Big House. “I’m not going to miss Michigan week,’’ he vowed.
Top-ranked Alabama (5-0, 2-0) is ready for a third straight SEC showdown, facing No. 19 South Carolina (3-1, 1-1) at a hyped-up, sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium today. The Crimson Tide beat Arkansas, 24-20, on the road two weeks ago, and followed that up by blasting Florida, 31-6, at home. Alabama is scoring an SEC-best 37.8 points per game. The Gamecocks are 0-4 against No. 1 teams all time . . . Both offenses have something to prove tonight, and plan on using two-quarterback attacks, when No. 14 Florida hosts 12th-ranked LSU. The Gators (4-1, 2-1) rank ninth in the SEC in total offense and pass efficiency. The Tigers (5-0, 3-0) are 11th in offense and last in pass efficiency . . . No. 13 Miami (3-1, 1-0 ) and No. 23 Florida State (4-1, 2-0) have played 11 times since the start of the 2000 season, with 10 of those games decided by no more than 8 points and six of them decided by 3 points or fewer. When they meet tonight in Miami, no one expects anything different. The Seminoles lead the nation in sacks, with the Hurricanes No. 2 on that list.